Strong second half lifts Flyers women’s soccer to 5-1 win on Senior Day

The 2021 Dayton Flyers women’s soccer senior class is recognized prior to kickoff of Sunday’s 5-1 win. Photo courtesy of Peter Burtnett, Flyer News.

Peter Burtnett | Sports Editor

The Dayton Flyers women’s soccer team celebrated Senior Day on Sunday with a comfortable 5-1 win over George Mason. 

Before Sunday’s game, the Flyers recognized seniors Hannah Osland, Alexa Holl, Lexy Kidd and Gill Losey. 

Inside the first minute, junior winger Jessica Sheldon got a loose ball inside the penalty box and fired a strong shot across the goal and past senior goalkeeper Louisa Moyer’s outstretched hands into the right side of the net for a quick 1-0 lead. 

Keeping the early momentum going, a long ball was fired into the box and fell right to the feet of sophomore forward Itala Gemelli. Last season’s leading goal-scorer Gemelli calmly took a touch and fired the ball into the right side of the net to put the Flyers up 2-0 inside the first five minutes.

For much of the remainder of the first half, the Flyers controlled the play. But on a free kick from near the halfway line, the Patriots sent in a cross that was answered on the volley by sophomore defender Katie Saunders. Saunders chipped her volleyed shot over Flyers sophomore goalkeeper Madelyn Dewey to cut the Flyers’ lead to 2-1 at the break. 

“We were honestly a little bit disappointed with the first half, in terms of the flow,” head coach Eric Golz said. “We scored a couple of goals early which is great, but I think that we let the tempo slide a little bit in the first half.”

There wasn’t much action in the second half until a free kick for George Mason outside the penalty box, but the cross was headed over the crossbar. A yellow card was issued to junior defender Kaitlyn Butcher for bringing down Sheldon. Just a few minutes later, Sheldon was in on goal after she ran onto a through-ball pass, and she ran past her defender and around the goalkeeper before passing the ball into the net. 

With a 3-1 lead in the 76th minute, the Flyers weren’t done yet. Similar to Sheldon’s goal, redshirt sophomore forward Alicia Donley ran onto a through ball, but was one-on-one with Moyer. The senior goalkeeper brought her down, was issued a yellow card, and gave away a penalty. Moyer stayed put on the penalty, and Donley fired her shot into the upper right side of the net. 

Donley wasn’t done either. Four minutes later, junior midfielder Alexis Goins passed the ball to her, and Donley fired a shot once again towards the upper right corner of the net to push the Flyers’ lead to 5-1 with ten minutes left. 

“I think in the second half we did a really good job of knowing that they were probably going to kind of press this higher up the field,” Golz said. “That’s probably gonna open up some things for us in the counterattack and it did, and the players did a really good job executing that. (We) created a number of dangerous opportunities and scored a couple of fantastic goals.”

After a tough run of form when the Flyers lost four and drew one in a five-match period, the team has responded with four straight wins. Golz said the team is in a “good place right now” as they head into the midway point of the Atlantic 10 conference play.

“I think we’ve just done a good job of continuing to stay locked in to the day, and make incremental change and growth and not try and do it all at once, and I think just focusing on the day and I think we’ve been able to add a layer.”

Next up, the Flyers (7-4-2) travel to Richmond, Va., to face VCU next Sunday at 1 p.m.

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